Adjustable Beds for Seniors

Amie Clark

Contrary to popular belief, seniors don’t need less sleep than other adults. Studies show that adults of any age require approximately seven to nine hours of sleep each night. This misconception partially comes from the likelihood of seniors having conditions that impact their ability to sleep properly. Depression, anxiety, arthritis, and insomnia – conditions common with older adults – all prevent and interrupt our natural sleep rhythm.

Luckily, there are devices designed to mitigate the effects of these conditions. Through the use of customized comfort features, adjustable beds are an essential way to get a good night’s rest, helping seniors age in place. Modern adjustable beds allow users to choose their personal preferences in design, style, and comfort. If you’re looking to cut down on chronic pain, or you simply wish to enjoy a luxurious sleeping experience, then an adjustable bed might be just the solution.

What Is an Adjustable Bed?

Similar to a hospital bed, an adjustable bed has customizable support settings for the head, feet, and back. Most often controlled with a handheld remote, these beds can be raised and lowered for immediate comfort.

Couples Tip: Many king and queen size adjustable beds have individual settings for each side of the mattress, making them great for couples with different support needs.

Adjustable beds are ideal for those who like to sit up in bed while eating or watching TV. The best part is they can be adjusted at any time, meaning you can prop yourself up while reading and then lower your support when you’re ready to sleep.

The primary secret to an adjustable bed is the base, which you manage with a controller. Today’s models feature technologically-advanced controls, compared to the bed controls used in generations past. Wireless and smart controllers allow seniors a great deal of flexibility and independence when using their beds. There are models and styles of adjustable beds that come with USB ports, heat settings, vibrating settings, or zero gravity technology, all leading to increased comfort and surprising health benefits.

FYI: Do not use a regular spring mattress, a memory foam mattress, or another style of mattress on an adjustable bed base unless you know that it is manufactured specifically for an adjustable bed. This could result in damage to your mattress and bed.

The Benefits of Adjustable Beds for Seniors

In addition to increased comfort, adjustable beds offer a plethora of other potential benefits, including:

  • Relieving back and body pains
  • Reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia
  • Curbing snoring through an increase in airflow
  • Preventing acid reflux through elevated head positions
  • Alleviating symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome through massaging
  • Making it easier to get in and out of bed

While we can’t guarantee that an adjustable bed can cure all ailments, they’re certainly a great way for people to enjoy higher degrees of independence.

Choosing an Adjustable Bed

Shopping for an adjustable bed is not very different from looking for a regular one. Your first step will be to decide on the size, as adjustable beds run the full spectrum, from twin size all the way to California king size. It’s likely you already have a size in mind to suit your comfort and spatial needs.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that not all adjustable beds come with a split design, allowing each half of the bed to have different support settings. If you plan to share your bed with a spouse or partner, then we’d recommend seeking a split model, as this will give you the most freedom.

In recent years, adjustable beds have become more commonly available at most furniture and mattress stores. Here are some things you should consider before you make this investment.

Adjustable Bed Mattress Types

Much like traditional beds, adjustable beds can support different types of mattresses. While spring mattresses are a tried-and-true method, they don’t lend themselves to positional adjustments. The three most common types of adjustable mattresses are memory foam, latex, and air.

Memory foam is a textile primarily used in pillows, blankets, shoes, and furniture. A mattress made of memory foam is great for relieving stress from pressure points, as it automatically adjusts to your body, cradling around the weight of it. The downside of memory foam is that it often traps heat, so it might not be ideal for those who get hot in their sleep.

Latex mattresses are a bit more bouncy than those made of memory foam. So while this type of mattress offers pressure relief, it tends to be firmer than memory foam. It also retains less heat.

Not to be confused with inflatable mattresses (the kind you pull from the attic for guests), air mattresses support your body with foam compartments that fill up with air. These are great for actively adjusting the level of firmness with the touch of a button.

Adjustable Bed Features

While all adjustable beds can change positions, many higher-end models have additional features. Here are some added functions:

  • Massage: Usually accomplished through vibration, a massage feature on adjustable beds can be another agent to help relieve pain and soothe you off to sleep.
  • Heat Settings: Much like a walk-in bathtub, many beds feature built-in heating mechanisms that can help relieve the pain in sore muscles.
  • Zero Gravity: While the name is a bit of a misnomer, zero gravity positions refer to a heightened foot position that aids in relieving pain, improving sleep, and promoting circulation.
  • Battery Backup: Many adjustable beds feature a rechargeable backup battery, allowing your bed to remain in place in the event of a power outage.
  • Quiet Lift Systems: Especially for those sleeping with partners, a nearly silent motor will prevent you from waking your spouse if you need to raise or lower your bed while they’re sleeping.
  • Smart Remotes: Nearly all adjustable beds include some type of remote control mechanism; however, some beds have a smart remote that can also track your heart rate, breathing rate, and movement in order to inform you of how restful a sleep you’ve attained.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Many adjustable beds allow you to pair your bed with a smartphone, allowing you to adjust positions and set wake-up alarms all on one device.

The Cost of Adjustable Beds

Adjustable beds and mattresses vary widely in features and prices. On the low end, you can find a manual, adjustable twin-size bed and mattress combination for around $600; however, you likely don’t want to have to adjust your bed’s position by hand.

On the higher end, adjustable bed and mattress combos can run upwards of $8,000. Mind you; this would be for the most expensive of models. Here is an overview of a few of our favorite adjustable beds and what you can expect to pay for them.

Best Adjustable Beds for Seniors

Brand Mattress Types Available Features Warranty Length Mattress Cost Frame Cost
GhostBed Latex and Memory Foam
  • Wireless remotes
  • Zero-Gravity
  • USB Ports
  • Massage
  • Under-Bed LED lights
20-25 years for mattresses; 3 years for frames $452 – $2,310 $174 – $2,800
Nectar Memory Foam
  • Cooling Gel Mattresses
  • Massage
  • USB Ports
  • Zero-Gravity
  • Wireless remote
Lifetime for mattresses; 3 years for frames $499 – $999 $649 – $1,498
Purple Spring, Gel, and Memory Foam
  • Under-Bed lighting
  • USB Ports
  • Zero-Gravity
  • Massage
10 years for mattresses; 20 years for frames $599 – $3,998 $1,399 – $2,798
Sleep Number Memory Foam and Air
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Automatic adjustments
  • Smart sleep insights
  • Under-Bed lighting
  • Warming features
  • Wireless remotes
15 years for mattresses and frames $600 – $3,000 $1,000 – $3,500
TempurPedic Memory Foam
  • Snore detection
  • Smartphone compatibility
  • Massage
  • Zero-Gravity
  • Under-Bed lighting
  • USB Ports
10 years for mattresses; 25 years for frames $1,189 – $7,798 $1,299 – $3,598

Additional Factors to Consider

In addition to price, mattress type, and additional features, you should also consider the following when purchasing an adjustable bed.

  • Safety Bed Rails: For additional support and safety, bed rails can be installed on the frame of your adjustable bed. These can be purchased and installed from third-party manufacturers. Please note, however, that most TempurPedic beds cannot support bed rails.
  • Bedding Expenses: With all of the movement involved in adjustable beds, you’ll likely want to purchase special sheets—either sheets with straps or deep pockets—designed to cling to your mattress. In most cases, adjustable bed manufacturers will offer these sheets at a discounted price when you purchase a mattress.
  • Trials and Returns: Ask the seller if they offer a trial period. Many retailers will offer a 30 or even 90-day trial period, during which time you can return your bed for a full refund.
  • Warranties: Pay close attention to any fine print regarding warranties. Especially when it comes to the adjustable bed frame, there are often separate warranties for the motor, the parts, and the labor. Mattresses will generally have warranties of multiple decades.
  • Repairs: Whether or not repairs will be covered under warranty, you’ll want to inquire about the repair process. Will a company send out a technician to repair your bed, or will you have to ship it back yourself?
  • Delivery and Assembly: Due to their weight and size, beds can cost a pretty penny to ship, especially if you purchase one online. Ask if they have any free shipping offers. Additionally, you’ll want to see if they offer free assembly and removal of any existing mattresses and beds.

Medicare and Adjustable Beds

Your Medicare Part B covers a hospital bed when it is considered durable medical equipment (DME). So if you have a prescription from a doctor for a hospital bed, Medicare will likely cover some of the costs. Medicare covers 80 percent of the cost if the supplier accepts Medicare assignment, and the Part B deductible applies for adjustable bed coverage.

Do not, however, expect Medicare to cover the cost of the latest model with high-tech features, like those mentioned in this article. Some other types of private health insurance possibly cover an adjustable bed. Ask your health insurance company about covering adjustable bed costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do adjustable beds work?

    Most of an adjustable bed’s function lies in its base. With its motorized control system, adjustable beds are able to move into a variety of positions to help support comfort and rest.

  • Will insurance cover an adjustable bed?

    While Medicare will likely only cover the cost of a hospital bed prescribed by a doctor, many forms of private insurance will help cover some of the costs of more modern, luxury adjustable beds.

  • Do adjustable beds ruin mattresses?

    While this isn’t always the case, a mattress could be ruined if it’s not compatible with your particular adjustable bed model. The best way to avoid this is to purchase your mattress and adjustable bed from the same manufacturer, as they will be able to guarantee compatibility.

Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here